Friday 29 May 2020

Book Review: Just Desserts by Charlotte Ree

Just Desserts
Charlotte Ree

Publisher: Pan Macmillan 
Imprint: Plum
Publication date: 29th October 2019
Genre: Cooking / Non Fiction / Lifestyle
Pages: 144
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: Hardcover
Source: Courtesy of the publisher 

 Instagram sensation Charlotte Ree is famous for her simple and delicious sweets ... and her love of puns. Her easy, user-friendly creations are designed to taste amazing, rather than just look pretty (though pretty they most certainly are!).

Just Desserts showcases 30 of Charlotte's most popular and delicious cake, biscuit, slice and dessert recipes in one outrageously gorgeous little package. Featuring essentials, such as chocolate brownies, shortbread caramel slice and chocolate-chip cookies through to show stoppers, such as layered berry pavlova and chocolate ganache & blackberry bundt, Just Desserts is the ideal gift for the baker and sweet-lover in your life - even if that's YOU!

I have a weakness for dessert books. Well, not only the books, I love cooking desserts! Cakes, slices, biscuits, tarts. I have a particular penchant for gorgeous covers and Just Desserts certainly falls into that category.

Charlotte’s book is split into two sections; biscuits, slices, sweets and cakes, bundts, tarts. Thirty of her favourite, no-fuss recipes. Desserts her Grandma made. Many taking less than 30 minutes so you can enjoy sharing your bakes with friends.

Ree includes a simple introduction with tips for cooking and a guide to the basic equipment and baking tins required. The book also includes a handy conversion chart in the back.

There are no fancy over-priced ingredients with most of them already in any well stocked pantry. I had a quick look through all the ingredients and there was only a very small list of items I would need to specially purchase for some of the recipes.

The beautiful and colourful illustrations of wattle, bottlebrush, banksia, waratah and gum leaves throughout the book give it a true Australian flavour. I would like to give a special shout out to Alice Oehr for these gorgeous illustrations. Go check out her website!

I was already familiar with some recipes in the book and wanted to try something different. The honey madeleines looked easy and delicious. I had all the ingredients at home however I did need to buy a madeleine tin. They proved to be quick and easy. The perfect thing to make when friends drop in.

Charlotte suggests serving them with a dollop of cream but I thought if I left off the cream I could eat more. They certainly were irresistible!

My next bake will be Charlotte’s Chocolate Ganache & Blackberry Bundt Cake.


Photo credit: Pan macmillan
Charlotte Ree is an avid baker and recipe developer with an impressive online following. Based in Sydney, Australia, she develops recipes and content for brands such as Marimekko, Kenwood and Williams-Sonoma. When she isn't baking, Charlotte is usually travelling as part of her day job as media and communications manager for a book publisher. Charlotte believes strongly in scratch baking, going back to basics with the classic flavours and techniques that our grandparents perfected. Just Desserts is her first book.


This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge

and Australian Women Writers challenge 


Wednesday 27 May 2020

Book Review: Prey by L. A. Larkin

L. A. Larkin

Publisher: Clan Destine Press
Publication date: 20th April 2020
Series: Olivia Wolfe #2
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Pages: 390
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the author

 A journalist who travels the world exposing heinous crimes makes enemies. Olivia Wolfe has more than most.

When her anonymous source is murdered, Wolfe must unravel the terrible secret that connects a British Cabinet Minister, a Vietnamese billionaire, and a poor South African teacher to a series of gruesome murders.

Soon Wolfe is hunted by a terrifying assassin. With governments in the balance and the survival of one of the most magnificent creatures on earth in her hands, can Wolfe stay alive long enough to expose this shocking conspiracy?

Prey is the second book in the Olivia Wolfe series by L.A. Larkin.
Olivia Wolfe is an investigative journalist that goes above and beyond the initial hunt for a
good story. She wants truths revealed and criminals outed even if it means putting her own life in danger.

Prey reads quite well as a stand alone however there are mentions of events from the previous book, Devour.

On the trail of what looks like a money laundering operation with a prominent British MP involved, Wolfe heads to South Africa to investigate links to a school Head Master. Det Dan Casburn, a British SO24 officer, is also sent to South Africa to investigate. Casburn warns Wolfe off but she is relentless in her pursuit to uncover this story of corruption.

As her investigations continue, those involved are soon linked to a number of gruesome murders and a psychopathic killer with a fascination for the dark web.

Prey is a grisly tale of corruption, murder, money laundering and animal paoching that spans continents.
Olivia Wolfe is a protagonist not to be messed with and I loved her steel and determination, although I did find myself willing her to give up and go home as my nerves were continually on edge.

Fast paced, chilling and tense, Prey is not for the squeamish.


 Thriller author, L.A. Larkin, has been described by James Phelan as ‘a world-class thriller writer’ and likened to Michael Crichton by The Guardian and to Alistair MacLean by The Times. Her new novel, PREY, reintroduces the feisty and resourceful investigative journalist Olivia Wolfe who was described by Sue Turnbull in The Age as, ‘a new breed of female heroine bounding into the hitherto masculine preserve of the action thriller.’
Larkin is author of The Genesis Flaw, Thirst, and Devour, and also writes humorous mysteries as Louisa Bennet. 


This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge

and Australian Women Writers challenge  
You can read my review of Devour HERE

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Book Club Book Review: Death in the Ladies' Goddess Club by Julian Leatherdale

Death in the Ladies' Goddess Club
Julian Leatherdale

Publisher: Allen & Unwin 
Publication date: 3rd March 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery
Pages: 400
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Beauty & Lace Book Club 


 In the murky world of Kings Cross in 1932, aspiring crime writer Joan Linderman and her friend and flatmate Bernice Becker live the wild bohemian life, a carnival of parties and fancy-dress artists' balls.

One Saturday night, Joan is thrown headfirst into a real crime when she finds Ellie, her neighbour, murdered. To prove her worth as a crime writer and bring Ellie's killer to justice, Joan secretly investigates the case in the footsteps of Sergeant Lillian Armfield.

But as Joan digs deeper, her list of suspects grows from the luxury apartment blocks of Sydney's rich to the brothels and nightclubs of the Cross's underclass.

Death in the Ladies' Goddess Club is a riveting noir crime thriller with more surprises than even novelist Joan bargained for: blackmail, kidnapping, drug-peddling, a pagan sex cult, undercover cops, and a shocking confession.

After reading the blurb I really thought I would love this story of 1930’s Kings Cross. The Cross had such an eclectic mix of people in its community in the 30’s. Living as neighbours were showgirls, prostitutes, the well to do, those down on their luck, artists, gays, transvestites and the bohemian set. This mix gives for some great story telling.

Julian Leatherdale centres his story on the ideals and philosophies of the bohemian artist groups of the time. Although a purely fictional tale there are mentions of some of the greats of the era and a few historical events of note at that time.

Joan Linderman, a journalist and wannabe crime writer, falls in with the bohemians and their drugs, sex and alcohol parties via flamboyant flatmate Bernice, a successful novelist and poet.

When a tenant at their boarding house is found murdered, Joan decides to start her own investigation and at the same time collect ideas for her crime novel.

Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club is largely a character driven story and I felt the murder mystery played second fiddle to the politics of the time and the sex, drugs, partying and dark underbelly of the cross.

I felt the end wrapped up too neatly and the twist was so left field it left me dazed.

Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club will appeal to Historical Fiction readers who enjoy the true historical side of the genre.


Photo credit: Goodreads
 Julian Leatherdale’s first love was the theatre. On graduation from a theatre studies degree at the University of NSW, he wrote lyrics for four satirical cabarets and a two-act musical. He discovered a passion for popular history as a staff writer, researcher and photo editor for Time-Life’s Australians At War series. He later researched and co-wrote two Film Australia-ABC documentaries Return to Sandakan and The Forgotten Force shown on the ABC and overseas. He was an image researcher at the State Library of NSW before joining the NSW Cabinet Office writing policy briefs for the Premier. For some years he was the public relations manager for an international hotel school in the Blue Mountain. 
Julian sadly passed away on 22nd April 2020 after a short illness.

This review is from the Beauty & Lace Book Club 
@beautyandlacemag #beautyandlacebookclub 

and part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge


Monday 25 May 2020

The winner of a copy of The Coconut Rebellion announced!

Once again I would like to thank everyone who entered my giveaway for a copy of The Coconut Rebellion . The giveaway closed on the 24th May and the winner was randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 

Congratulations to........   Tracey.

Please see my Giveaway tab for more chances to win great books.

Sunday 24 May 2020

Book Review: The Edible Garden Cookbook and Growing Paul West

The Edible Garden Cookbook and Growing Guide
Paul West

Publisher: Pan Macmillan 
Imprint: Plum
Publication date: 24th September 2019
Genre: Lifestyle / Gardening
Pages: 304
RRP: $39.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

For Paul West, a meaningful life is one built around food and community. In The Edible Garden Cookbook & Growing Guide , Paul shows you how easy it is to grow and cook some of your own food, no matter how much space you have.

The Edible Garden Cookbook & Growing Guide is a celebration of real food and vibrant community. It will inspire you to grow, cook and eat with those you love - and find real meaning along the way.  

Did you find yourself, a few months ago, standing in an empty supermarket wondering how you were going to feed your family? Me too!

Why do we leave ourselves at the mercy of panic buyers when it is so easy to grow your own vegetables?
The Edible Garden by Paul West, host of River Cottage Australia, is a guide to growing your own edible garden. This 304 page book is filled with glorious colour photos and over 50 easy to follow and healthy recipes with pictures of the finished product. I always like that finished product photo, it gives me a good idea of what my meal is supposed to look like.
Paul gives us gardens for the space poor, gardens for the time poor, micro gardens and community gardens. With chapters on worm farms, composting, keeping chooks and keeping bees, what to plant where and when. Paul has a big focus on food and community in chapters on hosting a pickle party, brewing your own beer and building a wood fire barbecue.

With bookmark flaps on the front and back cover this is one coffee table book you will find yourself turning to again and again for recipes to feed your family wholesome, easy to cook meals.

My husband and I both grew up in families where there was always a large supply of vegetables and eggs in our own backyards. We had tried gardens over the years but the possums usually beat us to the produce.
This time we decided to put the garden close to the house and used raised planters which could be filled with good quality soil.

Our garden is going well and we have had more hits than misses. It’s very much trial and error at the moment but we have started to enjoy some of the produce we have grown.
The Edible Garden Cookbook and Growing Guide has gone a long way in increasing our confidence in choosing products for the local temperature and time of year.


Paul West is a trained chef, a passionate gardener, farmer and popular media personality. Paul hosted four seasons of River Cottage Australia (Foxtel and SBS), is the author of The River Cottage Australia Cookbook and has a regular slot on ABC radio and ABC television's Gardening Australia. After hosting River Cottage Australia in beautiful Central Tilba, Paul and his family swapped their 20-acre NSW South Coast property for a city life in Thornbury, in Melbourne's inner north turning a suburban backyard plot into a productive patch.  

 This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge


Friday 22 May 2020

Book Review: Six Minutes by Petronella McGovern

Six Minutes
Petronella McGovern

Publisher: Allen & Unwin 
Publication date: 1st July 2019
Genre: Msytery / Thriller
Pages: 432
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: Paperback 
Source: Won

One Thursday morning, Lexie Parker dashes to the shop for biscuits, leaving Bella in the safe care of the other mums in the playgroup.

Six minutes later, Bella is gone.

Police and media descend on the tiny village of Merrigang on the edge of Canberra. Locals unite to search the dense bushland. But as the investigation continues, relationships start to fracture, online hate messages target Lexie, and the community is engulfed by fear.

Is Bella's disappearance connected to the angry protests at Parliament House? What secrets are the parents hiding? And why does a local teacher keep a photo of Bella in his lounge-room?

Petronella McGovern’s debut novel Six Minutes is a cleverly plotted mystery. On the cover of my ARC it says “impossible to put down” and how true that was!

Lexie has separation anxiety, she won’t let three year old Bella out of her sight. Knowing that she needs to relax and let go a little she leaves Bella with the other playgroup mums and ducks to the shop to buy morning tea. When she returns, only six minutes later, Bella is gone and nobody saw her leave.

Petronella McGovern’s description of a playgroup’s atmosphere is well depicted. A group of mothers supporting each other, telling each other everything but still holding back their inner fears, their true selves.

Told through multiple points of view the main mystery is of Bella’s disappearance but as more people are questioned it looks like everyone has something to hide and not everyone is telling the truth.

I had a long list of suspects and as I read further, instead of crossing off names, I found myself adding more.
There is lots of finger pointing and most of it is at Lexie and her husband. McGovern shows through blog and Facebook posts that you can never escape the trolls and old hurts resurface to haunt Lexie and Marty. The strain on their relationship is realistically portrayed with both being careful not to lay blame when doubts set in.

Six Minutes is a compelling modern day domestic thriller.


Petronella McGovern grew up in a large family on a farm in New South Wales, Australia. Farmland and the bush feature strongly in her debut psychological thriller, Six Minutes. She has co-written two non-fiction books - a travelogue of the 1960s, For Love and a Beetle with Ivan Hodge; and an Olympic memoir, Trailblazers: Australia's First Olympic Equestrians with Wyatt Thompson.  

This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge

and Australian Women Writers challenge 

Monday 18 May 2020

Mailbox Monday - May 18th & Life This Week

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog. Head over and check out other books received during the last week. 

Life This Week is a meme created by Denyse Whelan Blogs where bloggers share snaps of what is currently happening in their lives.

Happy Monday!

What has been happening over the last two weeks!
Isolation restrictions are lessening in Australia so we have made the most of the fine weather while we still have it.

We went on a bush walk down to the creek. We haven't had rain for a long time so there wasn't much water but it was tranquil and quiet down in the gully.

Mother's Day was a big event as we were only allowed two visitors, and their children, at one time. My children all visited spread over Saturday night, Sunday breakfast and Sunday lunch. We had a picnic in the backyard with the grandchildren. We were still not allowed to sit in parks at this stage.

A good side to having so much free time, locked in my house, was that I finished knitting Dot's cardigan and one for her favourite toy. I've now started a jacket for Ditto. Hopefully I can finish it before everyone goes back to work.

Books received over the last two weeks:

From the author:
Prey by L A Larkin
Olivia Wolfe is a journalist who travels the world exposing heinous crimes. She has more enemies that most.

When her anonymous source is murdered, Wolfe must unravel the terrible secret that connects a series of gruesome murders. But powerful people want her stopped.
Betrayed and isolated, Wolfe is hunted by a faceless killer. Can she stay alive long enough to expose the shocking truth?

Four murders. Four countries. One terrible secret.

Won in competitions:
The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart by Margarita Montimore
Brooklyn, 1982. Oona Lockhart is about to celebrate her 19th birthday and ring in the New Year. But at the stroke of midnight, she is torn from her friends and boyfriend, finding herself in her fifty-one-year-old body, thirty-two years into the future.

Greeted by a friendly stranger, Oona learns that on every birthday she will enter a different year of her adult life at random. Still a young woman on the inside, but ever changing on the outside, who will she be next year? Wealthy philanthropist? Nineties Club Kid? World traveller? Wife to a man she's never met?

While Oona gets glimpses of the future and thinks she knows what's to come, living a normal life is challenging. As she struggles between fighting her fate and accepting it, Oona must learn to navigate a life that's out of order - but is it broken?

The Long Shadow by Anne Buist
Psychologist Isabel Harris has come to the outback town of Riley because her husband Dean is assessing the hospital—the hub of the community—with a view to closing it down. Isabel, mostly occupied with her toddler, will run a mother–baby therapy group. But on the first day she gets an anonymous note from one of the mothers:

The baby killer is going to strike again. Soon. 

Then a series of small harassments begins.
Is it an attempt to warn Dean off? Or could the threat be serious? A child was murdered in Riley once before.

I would love to hear what you received in the mail lately! 


Saturday 16 May 2020

Book Review & Giveaway: The Coconut Rebellion by Mark Stary

The Coconut Rebellion
Mark Stary

Publisher: Rushcutter Press
Publication date: 3rd April 2018
Genre: Middle Grade
Pages: 229
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the author

The lagoon at Sea Devil Island is an idealistic place for a colony of fish to live and raise a family … peaceful and quiet. A little too quiet for young Jack Herron, who yearns to explore the world beyond his lagoon. But it is forbidden for junior fish to venture outside the lagoon. So when Jack stumbles across a secret passage to the outside world, he sneaks out and leads his three closest friends on an adventure of discovery. Unfortunately, they discover more than they bargain for.
Cursed to live on an island for a crime they did not commit, the fish of Sea Devil Lagoon must set  forth from their island prison and find the evidence to prove their innocence.
But this will not be easy! Standing in their way is a devious squid intent on world domination and the evil Scourge Stingrays. 

The Coconut Rebellion is a wonderfully immersive Middle Grade story for lovers of animated ocean stories like Finding Nemo and Shark Tale.

We are first introduced to Marty the albatross and Hamish the seagull. Hamish takes Marty to see Sea Devil Island which is a dangerous no-go zone for birds. When Marty ignores the warnings, excited about the amount of fish he can see, he swoops down and is attacked by “warrior fish” and injured.
Hamish helps Marty to the safety of nearby Blue Island and calls on the wise old green sea turtle, Gonzo. Gonzo then proceeds to tell Marty the legend of Sea Devil Island and how the fish came to walk on land.

I loved this story! It features plenty of danger, humour, friendship, squidnapping, battles and a curse that forces the fish onto land. There is never a dull moment in this tale of four young fish who save their colony from a deadly curse. It is a story that will certainly keep a young reader entertained.
This story screams big screen adaptation!

Recommended 9+ 


Photo credit: Goodreads
Mark Stary lives in the beautiful Blue Mountains of NSW Australia with his wife and two children.
When he is not making up stories to enchant his kids, he can be found cursing over a Victa lawnmower that refuses to start most weekends.
A decade of story-telling to neighbourhood children has yielded many tall tales, The Coconut Rebellion being the first in print.

But by no means the last....

The author has generously offered a paperback giveaway to one of my readers. Entry is via the form below. Entry is open to Australian addresses only and close at midnight on 24th May 2020.
This giveaway is now closed and the winner was ........ TRACEY.

Friday 15 May 2020

Blog Tour Book Review: The Checklist Book by Alexandra Franzen

The Checklist Book
Alexandra Franzen

Set Realistic Goals, Celebrate Tiny Wins, Reduce Stress and Overwhelm, and Feel Calmer Every Day

Publisher: Mango Publishing Group
Publication date: 14th January 2020
Genre: Non-Fiction / Self Help
Pages: 160
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Simplicity at its best: The checklist is one of the world’s oldest―and most effective―productivity systems. If anything, author and entrepreneur Alexandra Franzen shares, it is just as valuable now as it was during the days of the Roman Empire. Writing out a simple checklist allows us to tangibly plan our day and set in stone what we want to accomplish.

In the life-changing Checklist Book, learn:

The history of the checklist and why it remains to be relevant and effective today
The science behind the success of checklists, such as the instant satisfaction we feel when we put a check next to a finished task
How to create a basic daily checklist―and checklists for specific situations, like moving to a new city or navigating a divorce

I’ve always been a maker of lists. There is something satisfying about making a list and checking things off, and basking in the glow of accomplishment.

My lists have never gone further than a daily list of things I want to, or must, get done. However The Checklist Book is more than an organisational help book. It’s about making realistic goals and breaking them down to daily, weekly and long term goals. It’s about making the life you wish to live into the life you are actually living.

Alexandra explains the idea of checklists in a fun and informative way. Her checklist concept is broken down step by step so it is easy to start with the basics and build on this to achieve the goals you set for yourself.
This book goes beyond the daily “must do” checklist to things to do simply for well being. Think about what matters most to you each day, simple things, and live them.

Something that was a great help for me was the inclusion of Alexandra’s example checklists that you can tweak to suit your lifestyle and what you love.

There is no hard and fast set of rules. Alexandra understands that not everyone is the same so her personal list may not suit someone else. There is great flexibility throughout the book.

        "It’s not just writing down a bunch of stuff I need to do."

Through The Checklist book I discovered so much more to list making and a way to reduce stress and feel calmer every day.


This review is part of the Non-Fiction reader challenge   #2020ReadNonFic
ALEXANDRA FRANZEN is the author of several books, including SO THIS IS THE END: A LOVE STORY (2018), YOU'RE GOING TO SURVIVE (2017) and 50 WAYS TO SAY "YOU'RE AWESOME" (2013).

She has written articles for dozens of sites, including Time, Forbes, Newsweek, HuffPost, The Muse, and Lifehacker. She's been mentioned/quoted in The New York Times Small Business Blog, The Atlantic, USA Today, BuzzFeed, Brit+Co, and Inc.

Alexandra is best-known for writing about creativity, productivity, the power of setting tiny goals, how to develop more confidence in your writing skills, and how to stay motivated, keep working towards your personal and professional dreams, and never give up.

She also works as a copywriter, ghostwriter, writing teacher, and consultant. She helps her clients to develop podcasts, videos, websites, speeches, books, and other creative projects.

The Checklist Book is available to purchase online at, Barnes and Noble, or your favourite book retailer.

Please check the other posts on the WOW! Women on Writing blog tour